The Satanic Verses and Love Wins

Recently a certain section of the Christian online sphere exploded with a post about Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. A fairly fierce set of ‘discussions’ and name calling followed. Why? Because the book which is yet to be published might suggest that universalism is a possibility.

This in a small sense reminds me of the reaction to the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

Author writes a book. It upsets a belief of a section of a wider group. The majority of the section wouldn’t have read the book. This section then pours vitriol and anger over the book on behalf of the wider group. Though the wider group are actually not that bothered they get drawn in and feel that this is a persecution against them. The leaders of the section then issue fatwas and the offending author is villified and possibly killed.

This is what Rob Bell is being put under. The majority haven’t read the book. It’s not published. Yet the sheer amount of anger and incendiary remarks are frankly depressing. The fatwa has already come from the Ayatollah of the neo-reformed, John Piper. He bizzarely tweeted ‘Farewell Rob Bell.’ This essentially is a death sentence. In many ways this communicates that Rob Bell is dead to John Piper. As with most fatwas there is no retraction or apology or tempering of language.

I expect a book burning session at some point. If Rob Bell doesn’t believe in hell, let’s chuck all his books in our self made hell, ey?

It is more and more evident that fundamentalisms wherever they are, have similar features whether they are Atheist, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim. So I think at this point the greatest feature of British culture should be exercised.

Let’s all sit down and have a cup of tea.

And ask ourselves an uncomfortable question.

What is my fundamentalism?


7 thoughts on “The Satanic Verses and Love Wins”

  1. One of the most terrible things about us Christians, is that most of us WANT universalism to be wrong. It’s what happens when we are more interested in getting over the threshold into heaven, than we are in losing our lives in response to an unfathomable and undeserved love. I have always admired some things about Piper, but this response from him leaves me very sad. That said, I imagine many of the outraged evangelicals are piqued because they feel this is a distortion of God’s clear revelation, by a sensibility that is largely engineered by an extra-biblical framework, in Bell’s case… a decidedly postmodern one, though universalism isn’t halfway new. It seems to me at least one of the key issues here is how we think of orthodoxy (and more generally rules/ law) as being an interpretative, and constantly negotiated body of propositions/ beliefs, while insisting that they are normative, and as such can also be perverted. In other words, how do you acknowledge and allow the need (and the concomitant risk) of change, while deciding which changes are fundamentally inimical to the received tradition.
    Another related issue is the limits of law, and the need to exceed its formulation to grasp its spirit. This is where facts and values begin to blur and create particularly difficult interpretative situations.
    But for some time now, I have felt the only exclusivists I can respect are the ones who weep for it to be otherwise.

    1. I think the real issue here is not the actual subject on debate. It’s the nature of the discourse. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Neo-reformed have stopped believing in discourse. There is only proclamation without responsibility. Sad. I wish one poster boy of the reformed would be publicly acknowledge the mistakes of their peers. No condemnation. Just an acknowledgment as to there possibly was an error in this kind of response.

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